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Interview with Heather Done, Architect


When did you decide you wanted to be an architect?

I’ve been interested in house design since I was really young. It’s probably due to my parents. When I was a child they built no fewer than six houses! My dad was very involved with the building work, along with friends and family and my mum was brilliant at the internal design. My sisters weren’t particularly interested but I just loved it.


You’ve been fully qualified for six years now. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I like so many things about it. I think it’s mainly the variety of projects I’m working on at any one time. I particularly enjoy working with private clients and seeing their project come to life. Currently I’m working on a whole variety of housing projects, from an affordable scheme of five dwellings to a renovation and extension of a hundred-year-old farmhouse. It never gets boring.


Which past project stands out for you?

I’m particularly proud of a self-build house that was completed last year. It got planning permission just before the first lockdown and was built during the pandemic. That meant that I wasn’t as hands on as I would have liked but it was a wonderful project to be involved with. The clients wanted their new home, which was being built in a garden plot, to be best it could be and were so receptive to our suggestions. They wanted a turret – that was very high on their design wish list – and I was so pleased we managed to get that through planning. The completed house is very traditional, with beautiful stonework.


What do you like about working with existing buildings?

Working with existing buildings is all about problem solving – working around site restrictions and having to fit everything into a limited footprint. I just really enjoy finding design solutions to tricky challenges!


Has your role already changed since you qualified?

My role has really changed a lot. Building projects now see a lot more involvement from many different consultants. I see that as a positive, everyone has their specialism and it’s very interesting working alongside such a variety of experts.


What’s the biggest challenge you face at the moment?

I think the biggest challenge is around planning. The planning process is currently taking a very long time due to the Covid backlog, and Planning Policy evolves and is, in some cases, subjective, so it can be challenging but also very rewarding to find ways to marry goals and expectations with feasibility.


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